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Chinese Telephones and Phone Cards

Chinese Phone Cards

There are various options for making international and domestic telephone calls in Beijing and the rest of China, and two basic kinds of phone cards. The two kinds of phone card are IP cards (for ‘insert pin’) and IC cards (for ‘insert card’).

IP and IC telephone cards can be bought at tobacco shops, supermarkets, cornershops, hotel lobbies and sometimes newspaper stands throughout Beijing and China. The Chinese for IP or IC card is rather easy to master, it’s just IC / IP kă. They come in various denominations, from around 5Y up to 100Y (but the actual price you pay should be less than the value of the card).

IP cards are cheaper, but your choice of card may end up being guided by what type of telephone is most readily available to you.

Phone Calls from your Chinese Hotel Room

It’s usually easy to make calls from your hotel room, although you may need to notify the reception that you want to make a call, especially if you’re going to call abroad. Rates are reasonable to telephone within Beijing or China, but you can save money by buying an IP phone card if you’re calling internationally.

Hotel lobbies in China and Beijing usually have both IP and IC telephones, although you may have to ask the reception to use the IP telephone. If there is one, this should be the cheapest option, cheaper than using public telephones.

If the hotel has a business centre, there’s sure to be an IP compatible telephone in there.

Public Telephones in China

Public telephones consist of IC telephones usually found by the roadside, but the advent of the mobile phone means that these are disappearing in Beijing and China, though perhaps not quite as quickly as in other parts of the world.

The other public telephone option is to be found at cornershops and newspaper stands. You just pay the proprietor. These are a reasonable option if calling within the Beijing city limits, very expensive if you want to telephone outside of China. One option is to get an IP card and use it to call from one of these public telephones, but it doesn’t always work.

There are also IP and IC public telephones in Post Offices in Beijing and the rest of China.

Other Telephone Options

Another good option is the telephone bars – known as ‘Huàbā’ –talk bars, which are full of IP telephones. They’re not overly common in Beijing, but in the rest of China they’re usually to be found around train stations. The rates are usually pretty cheap, rock bottom if you use an IP card.

Some internet cafes have Skype.

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